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What Is Medicare?

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Medicare is a federal health care program offering medical coverage for all Americans age 65 and older, along with younger people with disabilities and those with end-stage renal disease, a chronic kidney disease. Medicare offers eligible individuals care in four basic packages: Part A, Part B, Part C and Part D. These packages offer medical coverage for different situations, such as hospital treatments, prescription medicines and general health insurance.

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Medicare offers medical coverage for a low rate to seniors and younger people with qualifying conditions. Part A, or hospital insurance, affords financial coverage for professional medical services at in-patient facilities, such as hospitals and nursing homes. This plan also covers expenses associated with treatment in other medical areas, such as home hospice care. Part B offers general medical insurance: this plan covers expenses for doctor's visits, outpatient services, medical supplies and some preventative care. Part C, Medicare Advantage Plus, combines services in Part A and Part B. This plan involves a contract with Medicare and a private company, such as a medical insurance company. This plan covers treatments at authorized facilities and with contracting physicians; in many cases, it covers medicine costs, too. Lastly, Plan D provides financial coverage for prescription medications; most Medicare patients combine this plan with one other for full coverage.

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